USS HOUSTON CA 30
“The galloping Ghost of the
Biography of Peter Makris
Peter Makris told his parents, brothers, and sisters he wanted to see the world. He had a thirst for adventure. His parents wanted him to wait until he turned 18. Peter was very determined to enlist at 17 years of age. His father eventually signed for him to enlist in the U.S. Navy. His parents both cried for a long time after that event. Peter wrote often to his family about his adventures on the USS Houston and on leave. Peter's body was never found, he was lost at sea during the battle of the Java Straits serving on the USS Houston as a F1C. http://usshouston.org/crewlist/crewroster4.htm
Peter Makris was born in Ironwood,
Those that remember Peter say he loved to tease, laugh, and was a kind person. The kids in the neighborhood said he would give them rides on his bike, laugh and talk. He was very helpful around the house, helping his mother with daily chores. All that knew him said he was a wonderful person to be around.
I never had the pleasure of meeting my Uncle. I began
finding out more about him through the years as I worked on my family
genealogy. I was lucky enough to make contact with
Another interesting fact about Peter Makris:
the American Legion Post in Rhinelander,
I wrote this biography because I wanted to know more about
This is a letter that Peter Makris sent to his family. The original letter is on USS Houston stationary but the pencil lead has faded. I was able to retrieve the information before the pencil message had faded.
Dearest Folks, & family,
Well, how is everything in good old Rhinelander anyways, its been so long since I heard from that part of the state it is isn't even getting funny anymore. It sure is nice here and I really am enjoying myself. Last week end I went on a sight seeing trip to the Pagsanjan Falls sponsored by the Army, Navy YMCA It cost six and one-half pesos ($3.25 in our money) and saw some of the most prettiest sites I have ever seen. We went by bus over mountainous country to a lodge about 30 miles from Manilla. We had to change into our swimming trunks for we had to go up the river in dugout canoes and plenty of rapids. It sure was fun having our boat tip over by rapids but the river is not more than five feet deep and clear as crystals. We finally got to the falls which is in a gorge surrounded by jungle where the water comes out of the mountain like pouring coffee out of a pot. We swam under the falls and sure had loads of fun. It was really deep there and you could climb on these high rocks by the mountain and dive in. Leaving there we had to come down the river and over them swift rapids. The rapids took our boat down like we were a match stick, so just imagine, seven miles down the river and were sure turned over plenty. When reaching the lodge there was a nice supper waiting for us and after sitting around resting our weary bones back to Manilla, another well spent day gone. I took quite a few pictures there so am sending them to you so you can get an idea of the surroundings.
To get off that topic, I sure hope your not freezing back
for I am just like a black from this hot sun which you notice by one particular
photograph. I hope James, and Esther passed mid-semester for when James
graduates I really am going to buy a swell gift. We are heading for
NOTE: The letter makes reference to pictures but I don't remember seeing any of the pictures.
Written and compiled by Angeline Makris Lang, niece of Peter Makris.
Letter from Jack Feliz
Jack and Marie Feliz
Dear Angie and Dale.
It would be difficult for you to realize what a thrill I received from your inquiry about your Uncle Peter Makris.
1 had tried to locate a
member of his family shortly after the War and up until a
couple of years ago. I had a
l have always wanted to tell a
member of his family what an outstanding young man he was. In my book, "The Saga of Sailor Jack" I have
mentioned him briefly on page 38, line 17, about those two men who approached me looking for
life jackets. Both of those men were from
Now getting back to my story
about Peter, I was a Machinist Mate First Class and Peter was an FlU, as noted in your
abbreviation for Fireman First Class. I was in charge of repairs to the
lava] Engineering experience and had served on five different ships, I had a gift of making a piece of run down machinery run like new. Peter and his friend were very bright and learned very quickly. They were soon achieving more than any other firemen in our engine room_ Often we worked extra long hours after all the other men had left the engine room after normal work hours.
Frequently, I would tell them they could knock off and I would finish the job. Every time I offered there to quit. they would say they didn't want to leave. they wanted to stay and see that I had done the repairs correctly, and that I might fall in a hole, after all I was pretty damn oldl They also had a wonderful sense of humor. They often pulled some good jokes on me. I still remember a few of them. they would hide my tools and tell me that they had heard that it was some people from the after engine room that stole my tools. When I started up the ladder to recover my tools, they'd holler, "April Fool!"
I named them the "Katzen Jammer Kids" after those devilish kids in an old time comic strip_ They were always "Bugging me" with new and clever jokes. Another time, they said that I had received a phone call from the Captain's yeoman, and that the Captain
wanted to see me in regard to my shirking my duty; as I started up the ladder, they hollered. "April Fool!"
I guess to 18 year olds a man of 31 years of age had one foot in the grave. They omen called me the Ancient Mariner with much gusto!
I would like to explain how we became separated during the battle; I was assigned to the forward repair party. We were responsible for fighting fires and repairs to electrical and piping systems and hull repairs. Peter was assigned as a throttleman on the starboard main engines. A throttle man controls the Forward and Reverse Engines, usually assigned to a First or Second Class Machinist Mate. Peter was so capable of accomplishing any assigned task, that I broke him in as a throttle man before the war started.
When the word comes over the speaker. "Man Your
In closing I hope this little bit of information will assist you in your family genealogy.
If there is any information that I can help you with, please feel free to call me. When you finish reading my book, please send me a post card telling me what were your favorite stories,
In conclusion, in my thirty years of Naval Engineering experience, I never found any person that carne close to the wonderful character and ability of your outstanding Uncle Peter Makris!